Wondering what to do with your Paraguay flags after L’Albirrojas were knocked out? Simply turn it upside down and hey presto, an instant Netherlands flag!
For anyone still reading these blogs, I apologize in advance for the poor quality of this one. I’m quite frankly Africa’d out. I’ve been here for too long now. I’m tired, my brain doesn’t seem to be functioning properly anymore and I’m struggling to force words to my fingertips. And I’ve got the shits. I’ve got this far though so I’m gonna struggle on to the very end.
We were in Port Elizabeth on the Eastern Cape for the quarter finals. It was an unusual city, the main part full of old British colonial buildings, with the newer Boardwalk a couple of miles down the coast looking like a Blackpool for the 21st Century.
It was a pleasant place though, especially down near the stadium which looks fantastic as it appears in between the houses as you’re walking down to it. Sat behind the goals in the middle of all the mad Dutch, the atmosphere was great..I was hoping for them to pull it off but couldn’t see them doing it, especially after the early goal from Robinho. Everything changed in the second half though, and it all went off around us after the second Dutch goal. We walked back afterwards, drenched in beer and went for an early night before the long drive to Cape Town the following day.
It was supposedly a 9 hour drive so we set off in what we thought would be time to make it to Cape Town to watch the Germany Argentina game. Someone however had come up with the cracking idea of hosting a cycle race on the road between Port Elizabeth and Cape Town the same day everyone in Port Elizabeth where making their way over to Cape Town for the semi finals. Tailbacks like you’ve never seen before ensured we knew from very early on that there was not a chance we could catch any of the game. Just to piss us off that little further, the police had nicely set themselves up hidden around the corner from an obscured stop sign on an unmarked junction. we were stopped and hit with a £50 penalty for ‘failing to stop at a stop sign’. They were raking it in like you wouldn’t believe. Not a single car saw the sign so they were pulling over a car a minute while we were sat waiting for him to write the ticket.
We had to settle for listening to the Germany game on the radio. Up until this point I thought I’d be following the Dutch all the way but this game changed things. I’d wanted them to beat Argentina anyway, mainly to shut Diego’s gob. Everyone talks forever about the so called greatest ever goal he scored in 86, but as a 7 year old the game was my first proper footballing memory and that goal didn’t even register with me. The other one did though and I couldn’t understand why it had been allowed. I was devastated at the end of the game and continually asked my dad why he’d been allowed to cheat. And so began my long standing hatred of the man. It goes without saying but, Germany were also on a similar levelling of dislike. That was up until 4 years ago. I went to the world cup despising them and came home just after the quarter finals wanting them to win it. I was at my Grandmas 80th a couple of weeks after getting back and my Grandad was really curious about what it was like over there now. “It was great, had an amazing time, we were made to feel welcome, everyone was really friendly with us”
“Friendly? They weren’t so bloody friendly last time I was over there”
So after the way they’d destroyed us and Argentina by playing good football, I decided it was now the Germans I wanted to win it.
This meant the next game I attended, Holland and Uruguay at Green Point in Cape Town, I wasn’t too bothered about who won. I’ve always been a fan of the Dutch, probably the international team I’ve followed most in the past after England. Seeing videos of the 70’s team that twice missed out in the final, watching Van Basten and Gullit during the 80’s and Bergkamp in the 90’s. There’s something about this team though that doesn’t have that same endearing factor it had in the past. Van Persie and Robben are both great players, but about as likeable as John Terry. They’ve gone unbeaten for 20 odd games as well but they’ve not really set the tournament alight.
The game had a couple of great goals but wasn’t a classic. Most people near me where more entertained by my hastily made Titus Bramble flag. People spent half time having pictures taken with it and on the final whistle someone ripped it off the hoardings and tried to run off with it until I stopped him. While I’ve been in South Africa, there have been a few of my things I’ve been worried might have been high on peoples agendas to night but I have to say, a cheap polyester flag with Titus Bramble for England scruffily daubed on it with black shoe polish was not one of them.
Our time in Cape Town ended with a trip to Cape Point where a baboon tried to carjack us at some traffic lights, banging and pulling on the door handle.
After getting back into the city we headed to the Fan Park to watch the second semi final. Until we were searched and told that we weren’t allowed in because of the bag we had from Spar with corn flakes and a carton of milk in it. “Sorry! Fifa rules state no food to be taken into the fan parks!” My
protests fell upon deaf ears, no doubt convince I was planning on handing out bowls of cereal to everyone.
I traipsed off to the nearest bar, cheered on Germany, sulked at the result and then changed my allegiances back to the Dutch again.
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